By Heinrich Domingo
Cinema often portrays loneliness through piercing wails from emphatic characters. Anomalisa believes it does not need to do so. It enters into the core of the audience using simulated movements of inanimate objects. It proposes that the complexity of human psyche can be alternatively seen using lifeless images. Anomalisa beautifully combines stop motion animation and melodrama to tell the story of solitude in his mundane world. It perfectly captures the melancholic reality of depression.
A lonesome author (voiced by David Thewlis) travels around the country to promote his new self-help book. He is in a life crisis as he feels that he lost interest in everything around him. While staying in a hotel, he meets a new girl (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh) that reignites his drive to live. Yet, as he knows her deeper, he suddenly realizes that she is just like any other. He is once again alone in a world full of same things.
Anomalisa perfects the art of emotional appeal using a well-written screenplay. It brings into the center stage the topic of depression which is seldom portrayed in media. Charlie Kaufman’s creative insight delivers the audience inside a mind of a suffering person. He uses lifeless puppets to give depth to humans’ complex psychological state. However ironic this is, the strategy is effective.
The matured topic of the movie redefines our perception with stop motion animation. Sex scenes, divorce, and depression are rarely attached to this art form tagged as exclusive for children. Anomalisa brilliantly turns child-friendly images into materials that reflect the real world. As a result, familiar topics such as marital woes, mid-life crisis, and infidelity are presented using a refreshing perspective. The simplicity of this film allows the viewers to focus on the more important element such as the plot and development of characters.
Kaufman and his team defied the challenge to arouse drama using a different medium. From the curious voice of the characters to the detailed animation procedure, this is a thought-provoking film from a well-thought out production. Aside from the interesting images flashed on the screen, the viewers are asked to look beyond the frame. Most of the movie’s messages are what were not seen. With this, the viewers must fill the gaps with their imagination.